Welcome to the Funk Lab

We strive to understand the evolutionary and ecological mechanisms that generate and maintain biological diversity using population genomics, experimental manipulations, and field studies. Our goal is to not only test basic evolutionary and ecological theory, but also directly inform policy and management decisions that will ultimately determine the fate of biodiversity.

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Gene flow-adaptation interactions

Florida panther on the cover of the issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution with our article about genetic rescue.

A long-standing question in evolutionary biology is how gene flow affects local adaptation. The classic view is that gene flow hinders local adaptation by introducing maladaptive alleles (gene variants) into populations adapted to different environmental conditions than dispersers. Yet at the same time, gene flow can infuse new genetic variation into small, inbred populations, thereby reducing inbreeding depression and increasing the capacity to adapt to novel conditions. This basic question in evolutionary biology has important practical ramifications in conservation. For example, augmentation of declining populations with human-assisted migration is an important tool in a wildlife manager’s toolbox for increasing the size of small or declining populations. A major focus of the Funk Lab is to understand the net effects of gene flow on adaptation, fitness, and population dynamics to inform when augmentation will work, and when it won’t.

Current projects: